EllaOne is known as a 'morning after pill'. It is used to reduce the chances of becoming pregnant after unprotected sex or failure of a contraceptive method.
What is EllaOne used for?
- Emergency contraception within five days (120 hours) of unprotected sex.
- EllaOne is known as a 'morning after pill'. It is used to reduce the chances of becoming pregnant after unprotected sex or failure of a contraceptive method.
How does EllaOne work?
- EllaOne is a tablet containing the active ingredient ulipristal acetate, which is a type of medicine called a selective progesterone receptor modulator. It works by acting on the body's receptors for the naturally occurring female sex hormone, progesterone.
- Ulipristal is thought to work mainly by preventing or delaying ovulation, depending on which stage of the menstrual cycle the woman is at.
- In a woman's normal menstrual cycle, an egg matures and is released from the ovaries (ovulation). The ovary then produces progesterone, which prevents the release of further eggs.
How do I take EllaOne?
- There is one tablet to be taken. It should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex, and no later than 120 hours (5 days) after.
- The tablet can be taken either with or without food.
- If you are sick within three hours of taking the tablet, another one should be taken immediately. You should consult your doctor, pharmacist or family planning clinic for advice and to get another tablet.
Things to know about EllaOne before taking it
- You will be asked about your last period and when you last had sex in order to make sure this medicine is suitable for you. This medicine can be used at any point during your menstrual cycle, but not if your period is late. If your period is late, or your last period was more than five days late or unusually light or heavy, you may already be pregnant and this medicine will not work.
- This medicine might make your next period earlier or later than expected by a few days. If your next period after taking this medicine is more than seven days late, or is abnormal in any way, you should consult your doctor for a pregnancy test.
- This medicine will not always prevent a pregnancy. If you do become pregnant after taking this medicine there is a possibility that the pregnancy will be ectopic (this means occurring in the Fallopian tubes rather than the womb). For this reason, you should consult your doctor if you experience any sudden or abnormal abdominal pain after taking this medicine, and if your next period is shorter or lighter than your normal period.
- This medicine does not provide continued contraception to prevent pregnancy after you have taken it. You should ask your doctor, pharmacist or family planning clinic for advice about regular methods of contraception.
- It is recommended that after taking this medicine you use a barrier method of contraception such as a condom or cap, until you have your next period. This is also recommended even if you are using hormonal contraception such as the pill, because EllaOne can make these methods less effective (see the end of this page for more details about this.)
- This medicine should only be used as an emergency measure. It is not recommended for repeated use, because it is possible that it could disrupt your menstrual cycle.
- Emergency contraception does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections.
Who should not take EllaOne?
- Women who know or suspect they are already pregnant (see below).
- This medicine is not recommended for women with severely decreased liver function.
- This medicine is not recommended for women with severe asthma treated with steroid tablets.
- Women with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption (EllaOne tablets contain lactose).
- This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction after taking this medicine, inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
- This medicine should not be taken by women who are pregnant. If you think you could be pregnant, if your period is late, or if your last period was more than five days late or unusually light or heavy, you should tell the doctor or pharmacist, as you may already be pregnant. Taking this medicine if you are already pregnant will not stop the pregnancy.
- Emergency contraception does not prevent a pregnancy in every instance. If this medicine doesn't work to prevent a pregnancy, limited data suggest that it does not have adverse effects on a pregnancy that develops in your womb. However, as there is a possibility that a pregnancy will be ectopic after taking this medicine, you should consult your doctor immediately if you think you could be pregnant. Ask your doctor, pharmacist or family planning clinic for more information.
- This medicine passes into breast milk. Its effect on a nursing baby are not known. It is recommended that women who are breastfeeding should not breastfeed for one week after taking an EllaOne tablet. You should breastfeed your baby just before taking the tablet. It is then recommended that you use a breast pump to express milk and discard it for a week, so that you can then resume breastfeeding after that week.
What are the side effects of EllaOne?
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.
Common (affect between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 people)
- Abdominal pain.
- Period pain.
- Changes in mood.
- Muscle, back or pelvic pain.
- Breast tenderness.
Uncommon (affect between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000 people)
- Menstrual spotting.
- Heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding.
- Premenstrual syndrome.
- Vaginal inflammation or discharge.
- Hot flush.
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
- Changes in sex drive.
- Visual disturbance.
- Indigestion or wind.
- Dry mouth.
- Feeling generally unwell (malaise).
Rare (affect between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 10,000 people)
- Genital itching.
- Painful sex.
- Spinning sensation.
- Dry throat.
- Feeling thirsty.
- Feeling disorientated.
- Abnormal sensation in the eyes, red eyes or increased sensitivity of the eyes to light.
Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you want any more information.
Can I take EllaOne with other medicines?
It is important to tell your doctor or pharmacist what medicines you are already taking, including those bought without a prescription and herbal medicines, before you take this medicine, to make sure that the combination is safe.
This morning after pill will be less effective if you are taking any of the following medicines, because these medicines speed up the breakdown of ulipristal by the liver:
- the herbal remedy St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)
If you are taking any of these medicines regularly, or have stopped taking one of them within the last 28 days, you may be advised to have a copper coil (IUD) fitted as emergency contraception, as this will not be affected by the medicines you are taking. You should discuss your options with your doctor, pharmacist or family planning clinic.
EllaOne should not be taken together with emergency contraceptives containing levonorgestrel (Levonelle one step or Levonelle 1500). It won't have a combined effect with these; in fact EllaOne is likely to make Levonelle less effective.
As it acts on progesterone receptors, taking EllaOne may temporarily make hormonal contraceptives such as the pill less effective. It is important to use a reliable barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, after taking EllaOne, while continuing with your usual contraceptive:
- If you are taking a combined pill you should use extra contraception for 14 days after taking EllaOne. (If you are taking Qlaira you should use extra contraception for 16 days.)
- If you are taking a progesterone-only pill (mini pill) you should use an additional method of contraception for 9 days after taking EllaOne.
- If you are using the vaginal ring, patch, implant or injection, you should use extra contraception for 14 days after taking EllaOne.
For further advice talk to your pharmacist or family planning clinic.